It just might be the world’s most exciting and important auto show and this year it also served as the stage for the first ever AutoGuide.com award-a-palooza.
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Mazda has just announced that it will bring the Mazda2 model to market in North America late next year, to compete in the growing sub-compact market alongside models like the Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit and Ford’s upcoming Fiesta.
“You’ve asked us for it for a while now, and we’ve been studying the market to make sure we can make a business case for it across North America,” said Mazda North America CEO Jim O’Sullivan. “As consumers’ tastes and attitudes toward small vehicles have changed, we now believe strongly there is a place in our lineup for a car below our current least-expensive car, the MAZDA3. MAZDA2 will be true to everything that makes our cars stand apart from the competition: it will be stylish, fun-to-drive and a heck of a value. In short, it will be Zoom-Zoom.”
There is no word on any specifics about the North American model, but in Europe and Japan (where it is sold as the Demio) it is available as a three-door and five-door hatchback, while a sedan version is available in China. Several different gasoline and diesel engines are available overseas, with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder making just over 100hp a likely option for North America.
The current Mazda2 model was introduced in 2008, when it won World Car of the Year. It is based on the same chassis that underpins Ford’s European Fiesta, which, by no coincidence, will also be on sale in North America by 2011.
Over the past 12 months Ford sold-off much of its stake in Mazda and recently announced it would bring to North America the European Grand C-Max MPV, which would compete directly with the Mazda5. The introduction of the 2, while no-doubt a pure business decision, is also very much a well-timed retaliation.
Fleet average set at 35.5 mpg by 2016
Yesterday President Obama announced a new proposal being put forward to increase fuel-economy standards across the board. If enacted, the legislation would see the fleet average for passenger vehicles rise to 35.5 mpg by 2016.
Currently automakers are facing an 8 percent increase in fuel-economy standards that would see fleet averages for light-vehicles (cars and trucks) at 27.3 mpg for 2011. Cars would have to achieve a fleet average of 30.2 mpg by that date.
The new legislation would see increases of 5 percent annually after that, with a fleet average of 35.5 mpg by 2016.
President Obama made the announcement at the White House yesterday and was joined by representatives of 10 supporting automakers and the UAW. In attendance were GM CEO Fritz Henderson, Ford’s Alan Mullaly, Chrysler’s Bob Nardelli, Toyota’s Jim Lentz, Honda’s John Mendel, BMW’s Friedrich Eichiner, Nissan’s Dominique Thormann, Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche, Mazda’s Jim O’Sullivan, Volkswagen’s Stefan Jacoby and the UAW’s Ron Gettelfinger.
If enacted the proposal would reduce America’s fuel-consumption by 1.8 billion barrels of oil.
The agreement was arrived at with the consent of California, which will cease to have its own fuel-economy standards.
The cost of achieving the new fuel-economy standard is expected to be roughly $600 per vehicle, a tab that will no doubt be passed along to the consumer.
[Source: Automotive News]